Money  /  Digital History

Canals 1820-1890

An interactive map of U.S. canals in the first half of the 19th century.
Screenshot of the "Canals" interface.
Digital Scholarship Lab

While the heyday of the canals lasted only a few decades, they transformed the American economy by connecting the areas west of the Appalachian Mountains to eastern population centers and Atlantic ports. Concentrated largely north of the Mason-Dixon line, they shaped American regionalism too by linking the northeast and northwest together into a region that increasingly came to see itself as the "North."

This map not only shows the places canals linked together but the hundreds of types of and millions of tons of commodities that moved back and forth along them.